If you are hurt in an accident in Georgia, you are entitled to file a personal injury claim against the person who is responsible for your accident, injuries, and total damages. Ideally, you would be able to get full financial recovery for all of your expenses—and with a good personal injury lawyer, that may be possible. But in some cases, there’s one factor that may limit the amount of money you can collect: the at-fault party’s insurance policy limits.
In this article, we’ll look at whether or not you can ever sue for an amount higher than these limits.
Insurance Policy Limits in Georgia
An insurance policy limit is a maximum money amount an insurance company will pay out if the policyholder is sued for liability. (In personal injury terms, liability means you are legally responsible for the costs of another person’s damages because of your own actions or inaction.)
Insurance policy limits apply in cases that are settled out of court as well as money awarded from a judge or jury verdict.
Here’s an example of how an insurance policy limit works: You are in a car accident and it’s another driver’s fault. You would then file a personal injury claim with that driver’s auto insurance stating your damages like medical costs, lost wages, and property damage.
If your damages total $35,000 but the other driver’s insurance policy has a limit of $30,000, the remaining $5,000 will not be covered by that insurer.
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Can You Ever Sue for More Than the Policy Limit?
If you are in a situation similar to the one described above, you may wonder if there’s a way to get compensation for the remaining balance. The truth is, you can’t force an insurance company to pay beyond the bounds of its policy limit. However, you can sue the at-fault person for more than their policy’s limit. If you do, you’ll be removing their insurance company from the picture.
If you choose to pursue a lawsuit as a way to get more than the insurance policy limit, you’ll be filing directly against the person who caused the accident. The problem here is that many drivers don’t actually have the out-of-pocket funds to cover your damages. Even if you win, the full award may be uncollectible. Plus, lawsuits tend to be expensive and lengthy.
In most cases, your personal injury lawyer will seek to get the best financial recovery they can for you through negotiations with the insurance company. While this still might limit you if your damages exceed policy limits, it’s typically the best route unless your lawyer thinks a lawsuit will leave you better off. If so, they may advise you to sue.
Other Ways to Seek Financial Recovery
In Georgia, unless like many U.S. states, you can find out the at-fault party’s insurance policy limit within the first 60 days following your accident. This can help you know how much recovery you’ll be able to seek from the insurer—and also the remaining amount that won’t be covered. Thankfully, even if the insurer won’t cover your full costs, there are other ways you may be able to pursue recovery for your damages.
Here are some ways you may be able to get more damages than the at-fault person’s insurance covers:
Through an Umbrella Policy
An umbrella insurance policy is typically purchased by parties who could be sued for other people’s damages following someone else’s accident. For example, this may apply if you are in a truck accident and the trucking company holds an umbrella policy. In this case, the truck driver would be covered by more than one insurance company who holds liability in the accident.
Suing More Than One Liable Party
If there are multiple defendants in an accident, you can sue each of them. However, you will still be limited to the total amount that is determined as fair or necessary to cover your damages. Plus, each person or party will also hold their own policy limits. But it is a way to potentially get financial recovery beyond the limit of a single insurance policy.
Don’t Give Up Hope—Speak with a Personal Injury Lawyer
Although an insurance policy limit can affect your compensation in some situations, don’t let it prevent you from seeking financial recovery. When you’re hurt as a result of someone else’s negligence, the law is on your side to hold them responsible for their actions. Even if it means hitting the top of the policy limit, a personal injury lawyer will be able to help you seek the fullest recovery that is possible for your situation.
Our lawyers at John Foy & Associates can help. With more than two decades of experience assisting personal injury victims in getting the money they deserve, we know what it takes to fight for your right for compensation. And the consultation is always FREE. For your free consultation today, call us at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form on this page.